Special Update of the Minnesota Legislature

State_Capitol.jpgIt has been more than a month since the Legislature adjourned the 2021 regular session on May 17 with a broad agreement on the state's estimated $52 billion budget.

On Monday, June 14, lawmakers returned, in-person, to the State Capitol for the first special session of 2021 to continue work on the budget before the state's fiscal year ends on June 30. The Legislature has until then to complete its work or face the potential of a partial government shutdown which has not occurred since 2011.

Republicans continue to fight for our values:

  •  Removal of the governor's emergency powers to bring the voices of Minnesotan's back to government
  •  Use of the legislative committee process to ensure massive pieces of legislation are thoroughly vetted by members on both sides of the aisle and Minnesotan's can participate in the process
  • Continuation of the Reinsurance Program to keep health insurance premium levels low and stabilize the individual insurance market

Emergency Powers

The special session kicked off with Republican Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) bringing forward a procedural motion to take up a resolution to end the governor's emergency powers which have been in place for more than 15 months. Ultimately, the motion failed on a party-line vote with just one DFL member voting in favor. The most DFL members to vote in favor of the motion was six members nearly a year ago.

In the Senate Chamber, the Republican Majority has voted to rescind the powers eight times.

Republican lawmakers fight to vet massive budget bills

Republican members of the House filibustered from Thursday through Saturday for about 36 hours.  At issue is the importance of the process of vetting bills through the legislative committee rather than waiving the rules and pushing a back room deal to the floor for a vote.  The DFL-Majority, in an attempt to fast track the various budget bills, heard legislation in the powerful Ways and Means Committee, instead of sending legislation to its original committee of jurisdiction, a move that silenced expert members of the legislature from weighing in.

Minnesota House Democrats are trying to push through bills that raise health-care costs with no vetting or public input. The legislation in question, the Omnibus Commerce and Energy Bill (16% of the state budget), did not include a continuation of the Reinsurance Program. At a time when the state has an influx of dollars, both in increased state tax revenue and significant federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan, the move can only be seen as a DFL attempt to move Minnesota away from its current health insurance practices and towards a single payer model.

Without the reinsurance program, health care premiums for as many as 50,000 Minnesotans will increase between 25-30%. Since its inception, the reinsurance program has shown measurable success in stabilization of the individual market and affordability of premiums. In fact, the program is now implemented in more than 10 other states based on its success in Minnesota.

Legislative Oversight of COVID-19 Federal Funding

The Senate is letting the governor spend $500 million of $2.7 billion flowing from the federal government with no legislative oversight.  This could have the effect of creating a $500 million campaign fund, where Walz could pass out the dollars as he wishes.  It gives him the chance to play hero to overcome local funding cuts to local police, federal cuts to unemployment insurance, and fund other DFL wish list items.  The only leverage that the Republican minority in the House has is a 2/3 vote requirement to waive rules and bonding issues.  The actions of the Republican House Caucus are really intended to highlight the 2021 legislative failures of the DFL House majority. 

Update on the Clean Car Rule

Last month, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) released their report on the Clean Car rule. The report indicates the rule can continue to move forward.

The role of the ALJ was to determine, independently, whether or not the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has the statutory authority to adopt the Clean Car Rule. The ALJ approved the rule and recommended its adoption.

Adoption of the California Clean Cars Rule is extremely concerning because of how the rule would tie Minnesota to California's rulemaking process.  Minnesotans deserve to have their elected officials making decisions for them, not Californians.